Milk car­ton makes great place for seeds

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By He­len Chesnut

Dear He­len: I have heard that you con­struct seed­ing flats from milk car­tons. Please ex­plain how to do this. I’d also ap­pre­ci­ate some tips on the in­door seed­ing process.

AN­SWER: Two-litre milk and juice car­tons with a side re­moved have an ideal depth for seed­ing and grow­ing most flow­ers and veg­eta­bles into trans­plant size in the same con­tainer.

To turn a car­ton into a seed­ing flat, cut out the side with the pour­ing spout, trim the re­moved side to re­move the up­per, pour­ing part, and wash the side and the opened car­ton in hot, soapy wa­ter. Let them air dry. Place the re­moved part in­side the car­ton so that it curves up against the top and part way along the two sides. Sta­ple it in place. This closes off the partly opened end and pre­vents soil from drift­ing out. Use scis­sors or a knife to punch three drainage holds in the bot­tom.

For just a few let­tuce, broc­coli or cab­bage plants, I use one-litre car­tons or small plas­tic flats I have pur­chased plants in. The plas­tic flats can be washed and used from year to year.

To seed, fill the con­tain­ers to within 12 mm of the tops with gen­tly firmed­down mix. Press well into the cor­ners, where the mix will tend to sink. Mois­ten the soil mix in the filled flats. I use a hot, di­luted sea­weed fer­til­izer so­lu­tion, which con­tains hor­mones and nu­tri­ents that aid ger­mi­na­tion and ini­tial root growth. Keep the so­lu­tion weak, though, at less-than-rec­om­mended la­bel rates.

Pour seeds into the dry palm of one hand, and take out small pinches to dis­perse spar­ingly over the moist­ened soil sur­face be­tween thumb and fore­fin­ger of the other hand. Give the seeds a scant cov­er­ing of mix, pressed down gen­tly and spray-misted to dampen. Cover the seeded con­tain­ers loosely with plas­tic. Most seeds ger­mi­nate well at room tem­per­a­ture. Thin the seedlings as needed as they de­velop in bright in­di­rect light and cool­ish room tem­per­a­tures.

Two-litre milk car­tons with the tops cut off are use­ful also for the last stages of tomato trans­plant de­vel­op­ment. De­leafed stems im­mersed in a car­ton’s length de­velop roots all along the stem, for an ex­ten­sive root sys­tem at the time of out­door trans­plant­ing.

— Canwest News Ser­vice

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